Monday, October 8, 2012

California Law on Human Right to Water

Two weeks ago (September 25) saw the passing of assembly bill 685 in California.  The bill included the following text:
Existing law establishes various state water policies, including the policy that the use of water for domestic purposes is the highest use of water. This bill would declare that it is the established policy of the state that every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes. The bill would require all relevant state agencies, including the Department of Water Resources, the State Water Resources Control Board, and the State Department of Public Health, to consider this state policy when revising, adopting, or establishing policies, regulations, and grant criteria when those policies, regulations, and grant criteria are pertinent to the uses of water described above.
Although I can not say for certain what impact this bill will have, what I have seen suggests it will be used to advocate for safe drinking water provision in areas where insufficient or contaminated water is all that is available.  Other proposed bills (and at least some passed, if not all) centered on water issues that advocate for posting warnings at contaminated water supplies in local languages, increase access to funds that can be used to clean up contaminated water supplies, and improve water access in fringe communities.

The bill is here:

A description on all six proposed bills relating to water by California Watch from last year is here (if you know the status of the other five bills, leave it in the comments!):

The U.N. News Report on the bill (including quotes from Catarina de Albuquerque, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human right to to safe drinking water and sanitation) is here:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Groundwater constituents provide nutritional supplement

When I hear "groundwater" and "Bangladesh"  together in a sentence, I immediately start thinking about all of the public health related issues caused by unsafe water supplies in that country.  However, Rebecca Merrill and fellow researchers at Johns Hopkins University have recently shown that some groundwater constituents may be beneficial.  In a study of 209 women of reproductive age in rural Bangladesh, Dr. Merrill demonstrated that daily iron intake from  groundwater sources was positively correlated to biomarkers of iron nutritional status.  Dr. Merrill attributes the low prevalence of iron deficiency in the population studied to the presence of iron in the groundwater.  Iron deficiency is a leading cause of anemia, and is estimated to be the world's most common single micronutrient defiency.  The take-away message is that consuming iron rich drinking water likely improves iron nutritional status, and that something in the water may be responsible for improvements in health.

Dr. Merril's publication linking groundwater iron to biomarkers:

Dr. Merril's earlier publication on measuring iron in groundwater: